Lithium: A white gold rush excites Cornwall – but who gains? – by Joshua Nevett ( – April 10, 2023)

Towering over a high street in a former mining heartland, a statue of a pitman reminds Cornwall of its industrial past. In this part of south-west England, the mining industry used to be an economic powerhouse and in recent years, it’s been making a tentative comeback.

A new generation of miners is hoping the natural resources that put Cornwall on the map will once again bring wealth to the county. This time, the miners are using cutting-edge technology to get their hands on lithium – a metal used to make batteries for everyday electronic devices we all rely on, from laptops to smartphones.

These lithium-ion batteries also power the electric cars that will be crucial to cutting carbon emissions and limiting the worst effects of climate change. The mining industry has the potential to revitalise the tourism-dependent economy of Cornwall, where some areas are among the most deprived in England.

But while the mining revival excites much of Cornwall, there’s uncertainty over whether lithium really will be the golden ticket the area has long been waiting for – benefiting people in a way that doesn’t harm the environment while bringing back well-paid mining jobs.

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